GSHPA prepares to host third annual STEAM Summer Kickoff event

Girls called for more engineering, nature and science programming and GSHPA answered!

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scout crafting.
A Girl Scout stays focused during a STEAM gemology session.

If there is one thing Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) prides itself on, it is being a girl-focused organization that strives to meet the wants and needs of its member base. For this reason, GSHPA is excited to announce that it will be hosting its third annual STEAM Summer Kickoff virtual event June 13-17 to provide more free STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) programming to girls because…well because they asked for it!

After surveying girl members in 2021, GSHPA discovered they were particularly interested in learning more about engineering, nature and science. In addition to providing great educational resources about these topics, STEAM Summer Kickoff also provides opportunities for girls to stay involved and make new friends during a time when many troops are taking a break from meeting.

Girl Scouts crafting.
Girl Scouts show off their crane design made during a STEAM engineering session.

“We want to stay girl-led, we don’t want to just pick and choose,” said Katie Wilbur, GSHPA Program Coordinator. “We try to make sure the programs are what the girls are interested in.”

With this in mind, GSHPA made the STEAM Summer Kickoff’s theme STEAM Career Exploration to help girls explore each facet of STEAM. The program will see girls learn how they can follow their own unique interests and passions to develop a successful career later in life. Embodying this sentiment will be keynote speaker Victoria Kageni-Woodward, Gusa owner and York-based fashion entrepreneur, who will kick off the week-long event by sharing her story of how she turned her passion for clothing design into her livelihood.

Girl Scout drawing.
A Girl Scout shares her animal drawings made during a STEAM winter animal program.

Led by Pennsylvania-based GSHPA Program Partners, short-term volunteers and GSHPA staff, girls will hear from professionals who are experts in their respective STEAM fields about topics such as native mammal wildlife, how to pitch an entrepreneurial idea, the impact of bees on our ecosystems and much more. Girls will have the opportunity to interact with these working professionals during the live sessions every day at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., as well as participate independently with take-home worksheets and activities they can do on their own time.

Girl Scout cooking.
A Girl Scout makes a delicious French toast dish during a STEAM Master Chef session.

GSHPA’s goal is to show girls that learning and participating in activities they enjoy does not need to end when the STEAM Summer Kickoff event wraps for the week. Many Program Partners provide opportunities to continue learning and staying active with their group through events they host. For example, Program Partner Whitewater Challengers will be offering a Raft-O-Ree Weekend for girls to attend that same weekend to follow their water and boating interests.

“Don’t let this learning stop this week, this is only one piece of the puzzle. You learn about it and apply your interests and we provide the tools for girls to keep doing it,” Wilbur said.

As a virtual series, STEAM Summer Kickoff provides flexibility for participants – girls are encouraged to sign up for all sessions that interest them, but aren’t required to attend every session. And with two sessions a day in both the morning and evening, girls will still have plenty of time in the afternoon to get outside and enjoy the warm weather without missing a beat!

Girl Scout eating ice cream.
A Girl Scout enjoys a sweet treat with her friends, made during one of GSHPA’s STEAM programs.

“It’s a great way for Girl Scouts to communicate with girls from all over the state. If girls aren’t Girl Scouts, this is a great way to see the culture and get a taste of it,” Wilbur said.

STEAM Summer Kickoff registration is open now and free to ALL girls from anywhere in the U.S. Check out the list of featured programs, mark your calendars and get ready to watch your girl explore just how far her passion can take her!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

HRG’s Erin Letavic shows the value in being a STEM problem solver

A civil engineering senior project manager in Dauphin County shares her journey in STEM.

By Catherine Amoriello

Erin Letavic, Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc. (HRG)
Erin Letavic, Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG)

STEM – we see this word everywhere nowadays, and for good reason. Nearly everything we use is a result of one or all of the components of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. We can thank a STEM professional for the bridges we drive over, the apps we tap on our phones and even the food we eat every day. Its prevalence in our society is a leading factor for why STEM is one of the four pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE).

With so many opportunities to learn and foster an interest in STEM fields, it may be surprising to learn that women and girls are underrepresented across all levels of the STEM pipeline. But Erin Letavic, a former Girl Scout and a Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) based in Harrisburg, proves girls and women can and should have a seat at the table in STEM fields.

Letavic has been with HRG for 15 years and offers experience in engineering and consulting, focusing on municipal services, grant funding solutions and stormwater permitting. Her position as project manager has provided her the opportunity to lead a team and share the importance of her team’s work with the community.

Erin Letavic planting trees.
Letavic participates in a tree planting activity.

“A lot of these projects take multiple years to come to fruition. It takes some fortitude to keep things on track,” Letavic said. “You end up doing a lot of storytelling. I enjoy building the team and also conveying the reason behind the improvement and benefit to the local community.”

With a role that’s very client-focused, Letavic also spends a lot of time working with others to develop solutions for water-related problems.

“I tend to be more focused on strategy. I talk with clients about typical water issues that they have, or partners they have that have those issues and they want to help. I help them develop strategies to work through those issues and fundraise for solutions to help solve the problems,” Letavic said.

Letavic is a natural problem solver who has always had a desire to understand how things work. As someone who grew up having to do many tasks manually, such as hand-drawing maps for projects, but now having the luxury of digital tools to accomplish those same tasks faster, Letavic feels she brings a different perspective to problem solving. Through her assistance with LandscapeU, a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship at Penn State University, Letavic has identified a lack of initiative to problem solve which she credits to most of society having answers at their fingertips through phones and computers.

“I’ve noticed with these students, and I’d bet it happens with Girl Scouts as well, in society we’ve been accustomed to just looking the answer up,” Letavic said. “The majority of STEM problems are not straight forward. You might know math, you might know the chemistry, but when we’re trying to solve really complex STEM problems, rarely is there one right answer. I think we can be most successful doing a small project, or even solving climate change, by coming up with an answer and being ready to defend it.”

Brownie Girl Scout.
Letavic as a Brownie Girl Scout.

Letavic believes learning through STEM and developing STEM skills is important for girls because it will teach them how to problem solve independently, a skill that will prove valuable to girls interested in a future STEM career. For girls leaning toward an engineering career path, Letavic advises to be practical and remember that every level of engineering work is important in the big picture.

“There’s a lot of jobs in STEM and I think a lot of us get stuck in the advanced areas,” Letavic said. “We still need people interested in computer programming and AutoCAD work. If I had a wish, [it would be] more engineering students would come out wanting to do more traditional engineering work.”

Girl Scouts provides endless opportunities for girls to get involved in STEM. From coding robots to exploring math in nature to learning forensic science elements, there’s a hands-on activity for all girls. Visit the GSHPA Events webpage to explore all STEM and STEAM events.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

Her creative pallete? Metal and a plasma cutter

By Cathy Hirko

Metal, welding and art. These three words normally are NOT included in one sentence, but they most definitely describe the creative outlet of Rae Ripple.

A national television series last fall launched the Texas mom of two in the spotlight for her work, and in a field not likely to be populated with a ton of women.

But like most women who follow their passions — we see them everyday in the faces of our Girl Scouts, our troop leaders and the countless volunteers who make our Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) chapter sing — Ripple found what she loved to do and worked at it. Persistence and practice have contributed to her excellent creative career in the welding arts.

Ripple became well known in her field after Netflix premiered “Metal Shop Masters” in September 2021. She was a part of seven talented welders to take part in the competition series.

From Netflix to York County, Ripple will be sharing her advice as part of Women in Construction (WIC) Week that is being held by the local southcentral chapter of The National Association of Women in Construction. Her visit is part of a number of events the chapter is hosting.

Part of our mission at Girl Scouts is to share some of the important events being held in our network, especially ones that speak to GSHPA. Our own programs help build independence, and introduce girls to opportunities they might not have known existed. Our girl-only environment provides fun opportunities to explore and grow.

According to her background, Ripple had an extraordinary, tough upbringing. She persevered and fought for her future. She kind of stumbled into her welding work and discovered her passion. After countless hours of practice, it paid off.

Netflix came a knocking.

If you’re interested in seeing Rae Ripple in action:

Rallying with Rae Ripple: Overcoming Adversity & Finding Your Passion

March 8, 4-6 p.m.

York County School of Technology Fieldhouse

Register for the event now.

Cathy Hirko is the Marketing and Communications Director for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at chirko@gshpa.org.

Girl Scouts get robotic, learn outdoor skills through GSHPA camp workshops

By Kristian Beverly

The sky is the limit for Girl Scout activities, and this week we’re highlighting STEAM Saturday robotics and Troop Adventure Day workshops that were held on Feb. 5 at two of our camp properties!

Earlier this month, girls participated in a Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) STEAM Saturday workshop focused on robotics at Camp Happy Valley in Adams County. The girls drew and decorated their own paper robot before sharing their creations with each other.

They then received a lesson about Botley the robot. Botley is a robot that’s perfect for learning about the basics of coding. Botley is controlled by a remote that sends instructions such as “go forward” or “turn.” After their lesson, the girls broke up into groups before being handed their own robot.

Teamwork and friendship allowed the girls to learn and have fun. Some groups created obstacle courses for Botley. Others had it spin! Much fun and education was had in whatever capacity the girls choose to do with Botley. When asked if they had fun, there was a resounding “YES!”

On the same day as the STEAM robotics workshop, Daisies, Brownies and Juniors participated in Troop Adventure Day at Camp Furnace Hills in Lancaster County, where the girls learned about different outdoor skills.

Doesn’t it look like a lot of fun? 

Join us in March for our program events!

GSHPA has an extensive lineup of program events planned just for you! From our weekly STEAM with the Program Team sessions, to an Adult Enrichment opportunity, to an Outdoor Journey at Camp Archbald, this month has something for everyone. Visit our event calendar to see all events and opportunities being offered in March.

Registration is open for all events – we can’t wait to see you there!

Are you ready to take on our February STEAM challenges?

By Colleen Buck

The GSHPA Program Team loves incorporating science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) into our programs. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we created 10 STEAM challenges girls and troops can take part in this month. Don’t forget to sound off in the comments once you’ve completed all of the challenges!

New Year, New STEAM Activities

By Colleen Buck

Happy New Year Girl Scouts! With cold winter weather comes spending more time indoors. But time indoors doesn’t have to be boring! Try out these fun Winter Science Experiments to embrace the winter weather inside.

Create Fake Snow

You will need:

  • A deep baking dish or foil baking dish
  • 3 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup white conditioner

Instructions:

  1. Mix ½ cup conditioner with 3 cups baking soda
  2. Mix until well blended and moldable texture is achieved

Snowball Launchers

This project can be found on the Little Bins for Little Hands site, and is a great experiment in physics for girls of all ages. Girls will learn about Newton’s 3 laws of motion by creating force using the balloon, testing acceleration when different amounts of force are used, and finding that with our actions in this experiment there will be equal and opposite reaction.

Snow Volcano

You will need:

  • 2 spoonful’s of baking soda
  • 1 spoonful dish soap
  • A few drops of food coloring of your choice (red makes a good lava color)
  • 30 ml vinegar
  • Spoon
  • Snow
  • Small container

Instructions:

  1. Add everything except the vinegar to the container and stir well.
  2. Carefully shape a volcano around the container using snow – don’t forget to leave the opening of the volcano at the top!
  3. Add your vinegar through the opening and watch as the volcano erupts! For a larger eruption, add more dish soap, stir, then pour more vinegar.

How does this work?

Vinegar is an acid, and when mixed with baking soda (an alkali) they react together to neutralize each other. This reaction releases carbon dioxide, a gas, which is the bubbles that you see. The bubbles of gas make the dish soap bubble up to make a thick “lava”!

Reindeer Pipe Cleaner Circuit

Karyn at the Teach Beside Me blog shows readers how to create a reindeer circuit This electrical circuit project is perfect for the season, and teaches that an electrical circuit is made up of a source of electrical power, wires that can carry the current, and a light bulb. It is also a great way for girls to experiment with what happens when the circuit is intact versus broken.

Home Grown Crystals

You will need:

  • Borax, sugar or salt
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Wooden spoon
  • String
  • Tall glass or mason jar

Instructions:

  1. First use your pipe cleaners to make shapes. Simple shapes work best, such as hearts, spirals or circles. Tie your shape to a wooden spoon that is longer than the opening to the glass or jar you will use.
  2. Pick whether you will use borax, sugar or salt.
  3. Boil a couple cups of water (WITH ADULT SUPERVISION). Add your crystal substance (borax, salt or sugar) until it dissolves. Then add more….and more….and more! You will be making this a supersaturated solution, which means that you will keep adding your substance and letting it dissolve. You will know that you have added enough when a small bit remains at the bottom of the pot/jar that will not dissolve.
  4. Once your supersaturated solution is ready, pour it carefully into the glass or jar, leaving about an inch at the top. If you would like to add color you can add a few drops of food coloring.
  5. Add your wooden spoon to the top of the glass/jar with the pipe cleaner shapes hanging in the solution. Make sure the shape does not touch the bottom of the container.
  6. Borax will make the crystals grow quickly, sugar takes about a week to fully form, and salt will take a few days.

This project is a great way to develop an experiment to see how the different substances react and what other variables such as sunlight or fans blowing air might do to the crystal growing process!

Don’t forget to document your experiments with pictures and send them in to us as a Mission Moment!

Colleen is a Program Coordinator for GSHPA

STEAM Saturday Robotics

At the beginning of December the GSHPA Program Team ran our STEAM Saturday Robotics program, and we had so much fun! Girls from across council joined us at Camp Small Valley and we got to not only learn about robots, but also design our own robots! Daisy through Junior Girl Scouts got to learn about coding with Botley the Robot, while older Girl Scouts had the chance to build and code their QScout Robots. If you missed our December STEAM Saturday Robotics, we would love to see you in February at Camp Happy Valley or Camp Archbald. We will have a morning and an afternoon session each day, and everyone is welcome to reserve time on property overnight or spend the day at camp!

In the New Year

Can you believe it is already the middle of December Girl Scouts? This year has flown by and we have had some incredible programs and events. Since October 1st we have had more than 53 programs with our Program and Outdoor team, and it has been so exciting to be able to add in-person events to that lineup! As we end 2021 and look to welcome in the New Year we have even more programs to share with you coming up in 2022.

The first event of the year is actually an ongoing one. 2022 will be spent celebrating the 110th anniversary of Girl Scouts!

Girl Scouts Donate to the Juliette Low Birthday Fund, 1946

Juliette Gordon Lowe began Girl Scouts with just 18 girls in 1912, and we have grown to 2.5 MILLION Girl Scouts today, and that is just in the USA! Keep an eye out for some exciting events to celebrate throughout next year on our event calendar.

To kickoff this celebratory year, we have a jam packed schedule coming up in January. We are so excited to host another Virtual Volunteer Conference on January 15th. This is open to all volunteers, and registration is live. This year we have many more sessions to enjoy and you will have access to ALL the recorded sessions afterwards.  In addition to a swag bag for conference participants, you will receive an exclusive code to use at the GSHPA Retail shop!

Girls can dive into the New Year by joining us for a number of great programs. Check out the exciting opportunities below:

Badge Days

January brings both in person and virtual badge opportunities, including Cookie Entrepreneur badges and Outdoor Experience badges. Take a look at all we are offering and register on our event calendar.

STEAM with the Program Team

Our fan favorite program continues! Join the Program Team every Wednesday for new and exciting STEAM activities, from Lego Masters to Pixel People and Master Chef, STEAM with the Program Team has something everyone will love.

STEAM Saturdays

Come get outdoors with the Program Team to get Wild with Animals! We will offer this program at two different camp properties in January, Camp Small Valley and Camp Furnace Hills. Each program will also offer a morning and afternoon session for girls to choose from. Register on our event calendar today, and come ready to get WILD!


We hope everyone has a wonderful December, and we cannot wait to see you all at programs in January to bring in 2022 with a bang! Take a look at the event calendar for more events, and let us know in the comments which programs you’re most looking forward to!

December 2021 Calendar

Happy December Girl Scouts! As we head into the holiday season we have a lot of fun programs for girls and adults on the calendar. We have a few of these fabulous programs highlighted below, and you can visit our online calendar for more programs offered all month.

Financial Literacy Nights

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania is excited to offer three financial literacy nights for Daisies through Ambassadors! JIF vs Skippy: Making Good Money Choices, How to Pay for that Malibu Beach House, and Let’s take Charge! Understanding Your Credit will be led by Becky MacDicken from the Department of Banking and Securities, these three programs will touch on making good money choices, managing goals and money, and understanding credit. Visit our Event Calendar to register for each level’s program.

Robotics at Camp Small Valley

This month girls can join the Program team at Camp Small Valley for a day all about ROBOTS! We will be designing, programming and building new robots as we learn about what makes a robot and why they are important. This program has a morning and afternoon session available for Daisy, Brownie, Juniors, and Cadettes. Visit our Event Calendar to register.

STEM Career Exploration Badge Workshops

Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes can join us for STEM Career Exploration Nights this December. Girls will explore their interests and discover how those interests can become a career in the future. We will dive into six different STEM fields and learn how careers in those fields are making the world a better place. Girls will also create a career path and brainstorm ways they can follow their path and motivate themselves. Visit our Event Calendar to register.

And so many more!

We have many more programs in December that range from outdoor adventures to STEAM with the Program Team. 

Don’t forget to take a look at our January events coming up too! We have a full schedule in January, including cookie badges, Troop Adventure opportunities and more. Check it out on our  council calendar to find the program that is right for you. 

If there are older girls that want to be involved in the activities we are hosting- please reach out to Dana Taylor at dtaylor@gshpa.org and we can connect you to ways you can volunteer!